Last week, the MedOutreach team ended two (very hectic) weeks of health screenings.
First was a day at the Nkoaranga Orphanage, where the med and nursing students worked with twenty-six children, all under the age of five. Vital signs were taken, physical exams were conducted, and developmental histories were taken from the childrens’ caregivers. The children started out very cooperative and friendly, but as the screenings dragged on into Nap Time, resistance increased and the team members had to tap inner reserves of patience and resilience to tears.
Next came several days of screenings at the Sunrise of Life orphanage in Maji Ya Chai, one of MedOutreach’s oldest partners in Tanzania. The kids at Sunrise of Life are older than the kids at Nkoaranga, and most have spent time living on the streets of Arusha. MedOutreach’s connections with Sunrise of Life are so old that children who were first screened by MedOutreach are now adults who work beside it (like Godlove, the translator working behind Chloe in the image below). There has been a significant turn-over of children at Sunrise in the last few years, and many of the new arrivals have no previous documentation, and no recollection of ever receiving medical care. The MedOutreach screenings represent the first entry in these childrens’ health records. Here, several significant health issues were identified, and MedOutreach has been working with the staff of the orphanage in providing follow-up care. The dental students did their own screenings here, as well, and gave free dental care to the kids who needed it at the Seventh-Day Adventist Dental Clinic in Njiro.
Finally, the team spent several days screening the Upendo CTC group in Arusha, a group of HIV-positive individuals whose care has been sponsored by the MedOutreach team for some time. It was a significant learning experience for the entire team in different ways. Even with modern anti-retroviral therapy for HIV, the health of affected individuals can be quite fragile, and there are many diseases, especially of the skin (seen by meds and nurses), and mouth (seen by dents) that are prevalent in this group that are almost unknown in the general population. Being able to take histories from adults in Tanzania also provided some opportunities for eye-opening about the cultural differences between Canada and Tanzania.